Friday, November 25, 2005


This is the last of the assignments I was given by my professor, D.W., to assess my skill and readiness to learn the discipline of medical illustration.

I had some question as to why an assignment like this was supposed to help assess my skill, and DW asked his colleague at the University of Toronto medical illustration graduate school that. The response was:

"This project hopefully demonstrates how much control the
illustrator has in directing his/her audience to focus on a specific area.
Are you to focus on the foreground or gaze beyond the window ledge to see what's happening outside the window? Or perhaps you are looking at a
reflection in the window. The bottom line is you have to make a decision
in order to direct your audience's attention to where you want them to
look. Not unlike looking at a surgical illustration Do you render
everything equally in the viewing field or emphasize only the important
details? Also it is a good composition exercise. We find many portfolios
contain single objects floating in space on a page and very few full

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Why Me, Lord?

It's really weird to be the mother of a very popular, very godly daughter. After our other guests left we were sitting around talking to close friends in the family room, and suddenly two of my daughter's friends show up at the door! So up they go to her room, which was fine, and the next thing I know Meg is asking me if they can go out somewhere. I told them they could not leave this side of town and that they could stay out til 10, no later. Off they go.

This would have been unthinkable for me at her age. But only because I never got the chance. Not only would any of my friends NOT shown up at my door on Thanksgiving Day evening (I simply wasn't the kind of person people spontaneously invited out like that), but my parents would never have allowed me to hang out like that. I know Meg will be back when I asked her to be, and I know her friends will respect my wishes.

I thank God for a daughter like this, and for her friends like that, on this Thanksgiving Day. She's better than I was, and in many ways, so are they. The lines have fallen in pleasant places for me, O Lord. Thanks be to You!

Edit: She got home at 9:30, and asked if the friends could stay and watch a movie with her. We went to bed at 10, and they sat up and watched two movies. Meg is sleeping in this AM.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Runner's Rhetoric

I had a great run this AM... For some mad reason I woke up at 4:15 AM and decided to get up instead of luxuriate, or go back to sleep, which I love to do. I checked email, had my devotion, and then decided to do my run although it was well before dawn.

When I first started running years ago, I thought I could build a habit of getting up and running at six. It hasn't happened that way; more often my run occurs at 7:30 or 8. But I did love seeing the stars while trying to build that habit, most especially the Pleiades. Some call this happy little cluster The Seven Sisters, but to me they are simply star-laughter. They just look as if they are merrily chuckling up there; they are never sad, and they always lift my spirits. Today as I got started, Orion floated majestically nearby, and Scorpio and the Big Dipper winked to the north.

My run is actually sort of a fast, smooth trot. At night everything takes on a surreal quality-- it's almost as if my body is sort of floating along invisibly (I do wear reflectors in darkness) and only my senses exist. One becomes far less aware of distances; only sights, smells, sounds and the wind exist. It's almost like a silent flight just above the ground. As I glided past a reservoir, I looked off to the north just in time to see a meteor fireball falling to earth. The geese were barely silhouetted on the surface of the pond; I could hear vague, sleepy honks as I slid past, barely making noise with my feet.

On my way back I watched the sky take on a rose-purple hue as the sun began to waken, the stars still bright near the horizon. By the time I got home, half the sky was more day than night, yet still stars out, looking like diamonds in a silver necklace rather than loose stones on blue velvet. And now the trees in the west are silhouetted in the dawn sky, and day has properly begun.

Thanks, Lord, for Your quiet presence with me this day.

Another Mouse Story.

In their Brooklyn home, my Norwegian grandmother kept a bottle of brandy "for cooking purposes". (Like fun she did, but anyway...) Her method for keeping the house free of mice was as follows...Into a saucer place a tablespoon of rice. Douse it with brandy, let soak. Put on counter overnight. Mice find saucer, eat rice with gusto, become drunk as sailors, pass out. Grandmother feeds mice to cats, who appreciate the marinade, and spend the rest of the day in a pleasant stupor. Everyone is happy including mice.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Dangerous Cat?

We have two brother Siamese cats, Tchai and Haydn, who are good for very little except patting and snuggling, the acceptance of which they excel at. However, it would be nice if they would do something, you know, Useful, like kill vermin. I know cats that are Spider Killers (I would love a certified Spider Killer, so long as I could be sure the quarry would not be lovingly left on my pillow), and Mouse Hunters. Our cats are merely curious beasts who don't know they are supposed to be dangerous.

Several years ago, they were nosing around the woodpile by the fireplace with such interest that we decided to check it out. On removing some of the wood, out came a mouse which shot across the floor directly between my legs, causing me to jump and emit a squeak that my children still talk about while rolling on the floor in laughter. The cats watched it run past with cool academic interest while the rest of the household tried to demonstrate the attitude of the Big Game Hunter. Nothing doing. The mouse disappeared to parts unknown, and I set out traps to no avail. The cats curled up on the sofa and went to sleep.

This happens when the weather is cold, pore thangs, and they look for breaks in the foundation, like where the air conditioner comes into the basement.

Last week, we were eating a quiet, civilised dinner, when Tchai suddenly and smoothly trots past on his way out of the basement, tail high. Meg does a double take, and says incredulously, "Did he have something in his mouth??" She follows him into the other room, and he scoots furtively to the basement door again-- sure enough, there's a small mouse in his jaws! We rejoice, and Meg follows him downstairs, where he triumphantly drops the mouse. The mouse lies still.... for a moment, and then gets up and skitters off.

Oh, well, back to the drawing board. We set a trap for him and got him the next day, pore thang.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I don't know who wrote this or whether they were a believer, but I thought it was a neat piece. If anyone knows, say so:

I am standing upon the dock at the seashore, a ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: "There -- she is gone!"
"Gone where?" Gone from my sight, that's all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my
side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined
port. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at that moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!", there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"

And that is dying ...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


After several hours of trying to do a still life by a window, with wildly varying degrees of light, I begin to see why Van Gogh thought it might be less trouble to kill himself.

A little sabbatical.

I'm kind of sort of taking this week off from the School. Except that I have a project I am trying to get done before Friday: I have been assigned a picture to do of a window, portraying things both outside and just inside the window. The object is to not only show ability with design and color but also the ability to show what could be called 'atmospheric perspective'. This is the ability to show a difference between what is near and far by varying the quality of light, not just perspective. I got a good start on that on Monday, but yesterday was cloudy, so I did nothing on it. I plan to start again on it after lunch, when the light is right.

In the meantime, I have discovered a way to get the exercise I need to get without ruining my back: racewalking. I'm pretty excited about it, since I'm getting just about equal to the workout that I get from running, only without the pounding. Basically, I am going just under the pace I would be if I were running, and my upper body looks as if I am running, but I take care to always have one foot on the ground. I'm never airborne, the way one would be if running. This reduces the stress on my vertbrae considerably, which allows me to go for much longer, and to go everyday. Today as an experiment, I did over seven miles. I'm tired but I feel pretty good. Especially since I don't feel too much guilt about having a bagel dripping with butter, along with yogurt, All-Bran, and a banana for breakfast. I like big breakfasts!

Here's another of my assignments. The idea was to make a pencil drawing that would convey tension and elasticity. It had to be a conceptual drawing, that is, not done from life or a photograph, but more 'out of the head'. I'm also supposed to show the working pictures I made to arrive at it, but I didn;t get those photographed as there are about 12 of them:

Monday, November 07, 2005

Here's Looking At You

Here's my eyeball picture. The medium is watercolor applied in very thin layers to build up color. The original ( my painting is a copy) is published in Sobotta's atlas, and was painted by my incredible mentor, D.W..

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

On Joy.

"The sense of joy, as you well know, persists, accepts, cushions-- makes bearable the hardships and sorrows life mixes with the graces. While 'happy'is exactly as it sounds. Say 'happy' over and over again. it sounds like a loon; it can only be of short duration before its own hysteria destroys it-- leaving an abyss of nothing. while joy-- joie-- say them out loud-- is long, drawn out and lasts. It spins into a long thread, of silk, not of nylon..."

It's amazing what one finds in the Journal of Biomedical Communication. I love this quote by the eminent medical illustator Pauline Lariviere Grimaldi, who was a bon vivant French Canadian full of joie de vivre. I have no idea whether she was a believer or not, but she certainly got this one right. What's lacking is the Reason and Source for Joy, which believers can all agree on, oui?